andersen-24

Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen watches the action during last week's 37-7 win against visiting Idaho State. How much improvement in terms of wins should Beaver fans expect in Andersen's second year? Difficult question ... tough challenge.

Associated Press

So how good of a coaching hire has Gary Andersen been for the Beavers, who are 1-2 after Saturday’s 38-24 loss to Boise State?

One of the ways that I approach the impact of a new coach on a program is how quickly the new guy takes it somewhere. Or doesn’t take it somewhere.

If a coach who is struggling gets fired, often the energy and positive new direction of the succeeding coach gives the program a bit of a boost. Also worth looking at is if a coach leaves for another (better?) job … how does the new coach do at keeping the program humming at a high level?

Enough philosophy. Let’s get down to cases.

Slow start

Andersen’s Beavers won two games in his first year, three fewer than his predecessor, Mike Riley, won in his final season before taking the job at Nebraska. Andersen’s three-game drop is the most precipitous of any current Pac-12 coach in his first year.

Sonny Dykes of Cal was 1-11 in 2013, his first season with the Bears, a two-win drop from Jeff Tedford’s final season. Mike Leach, hired by Washington State in 2012, went 3-9, one win worse than the fired coach he replaced, Paul Wulff.

The remainder of the coaches who took over for fired predecessors all showed healthy win gains in their first year. Rich Rodriguez boosted Arizona from four wins to eight in his first year, 2012. Todd Graham of ASU lifted the Sun Devils from six wins to eight in 2012, his first year. Jim Mora improved UCLA from six wins to nine. Rich Rod, Graham and Mora all have posted 10-win seasons since (although it should be noted that Arizona dropped from 10 wins to 7 last year, while ASU plunged from 10 to 6.

And please note that those three schools – UCLA, Arizona and ASU – year in and year in have much stronger recruiting bases to call on than OSU does.

Mike MacIntrye, meanwhile, increased Colorado’s win total from one to four in 2013, his first year. The Buffaloes, who won just twice in 2014 and four times last season, are 3-1 this year. That includes a win Saturday against the Ducks at Autzen … using a backup quarterback. OSU visits Boulder next Saturday.

Off to pros

Chip Kelly at Oregon and Jim Harbaugh at Stanford both left for the pros after taking their teams to national title caliber status. Kelly won 10, 12, 12 and 12 games in his four years with the Ducks and took the team to a national championship game.

Kelly’s successor, Mark Helfrich won 11 and 12 in his first two years, with another national championship berth. But he dropped to 9-4 last year in year three and the Ducks already have two losses this year. Getting to 10 wins this year seems a bit of a stretch.

Stanford’s David Shaw has had a strong run of success since replacing Harbaugh, who went 12-1 in his final year with the Cardinal. Shaw has won 11, 12, 11, 8 and 12 games in his five full seasons and this year’s squad is in the top 10.

The Pac-12 coach with the longest tenure is Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, who took over the Utes from Urban Meyer in 2005. Whittingham is 99-46 overall and was 13-0, 10-3 and 10-3 in his final three seasons in the Mountain West before the school joined the Pac-12. The Utes struggled a bit in the new league, going 8-5, 5-7 and 5-7 before rising to 9-4 and 10-3 seasons the past two years.

Chris Petersen took over at Washington in 2014 after going 92-12 in eight seasons at Boise State. Petersen was 8-6 and 7-5 in his first two years in Seattle, which some might see as a bit of a slump, given his track record and the fact that his predecessor, Steve Sarkisian, went 9-4 in 2013 before heading to his implosion at USC.

It’s all but impossible to fit the Trojans into my equation. Clay Helton, the current coach, went 5-4 after Sarkisian was fired five games into his second year with a 12-6 overall record. The previous year Helton, Ed Orgeron and Lane Kiffin combined to go 10-4. Kiffin was 7-6 all by himself in 2012.

Future murky

So what does all this mean?

My sense is that it is not good news for Beaver fans. WSU and Cal, the other two programs that showed first-year drops after firing coaches, both had eight-win years under the new coaches by year four.

Could Andersen do that? We’ll see. Starting 1-2 this season with nine consecutive weeks of daunting Pac-12 games ahead of him does not bode well. OSU has lost its last 11 league games and doesn’t really know who its quarterback is. Again.

So where are the three league wins that would get Andersen to, say, 4-8 this year? The good news is that the Beavers have five home Pac-12 games: Cal, Utah, WSU, Arizona and Oregon. The bad news is that they likely will be underdogs in all of them. On the road? Colorado, Stanford, Washington and UCLA.

Beat Cal and WSU at home and Colorado on the road and you have four wins. But can the Beavers pull that off? Given that USC is a mess at 1-3 Beaver Nation probably is a bit wistful that OSU doesn’t get a shot at the Trojans this year. ASU is the other league team the Beavs miss this season.

Side note: Once OSU hires an interim athletic director that person will be the third AD of Andersen’s Beaver career, which has lasted just 15 games. A permanent hire will be the fourth AD … and likely will be a person with no ties/loyalty to Andersen. Less than 4-8 in this campaign likely will put a bit of a glow under Andersen’s seat.

Fair? Unfair? Doesn’t matter. That’s life in college sports.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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